New Firmware Heading Our Way For Selected Nikons

I own and shoot the Fuji X-T1 as well as my Nikons and Hasselbald.  With Fuji’s most recent announcement of the new firmware update (free) to the X-T1, yes I have already loaded mine, you can imagine my excitement when Nikon decided to follow suite.   I am hopeful that this is sign of the times for those investing in more serious bodies.  Love it.

Several items area really important to me with the two most important being focused around the histogram.  Being able see a histogram that is based on the RAW file vs. the jpg that is embedded in the RAW container and a full screen histogram will use make me happy.  To get an idea of what is heading our way, jump to Nikon Rumors link below.

Nikon to announce a new firmware download program on January 19th including several improvements for the D750, D810, D800, D800E, D610 and D600 cameras.

Cheers and happy photo’ing.

2014 Wrap-Up and Adventure Summary

Ok, it’s time for the annual 2014 wrap up and a glimpse of what’s happening in 2015, so here we go.

2014 had me spending more time in Africa and on the road than I did at home, at least it seemed that way. The year kicked off in February with one of my favorite Thomson Safari adventures in Tanzania – the wildebeest calving. This time of the year is always an exciting because we are able to witness and photograph the births of literally thousands of newborn wildebeests. We also see the numerous predators that follow the herds of newborns and their parents, hoping for an easy meal.

Shortly thereafter I found myself in Namibia with Andy Biggs and Joshua Holko photographing the incredible landscapes in the oldest and tallest dunes in the world. This was my fourth trip to Namibia, and when it comes to desert landscapes, Namibia is absolutely numero uno! I will be returning in March 2015 to lead another Namibian landscape experience.

June found me back in Tanzania for the wildebeest rut safari, again with Thomson Safaris – and if you ask whether I like the calving more than the rutting, well, I just couldn’t say because both are incredible! With predators following the herds as they migrated across the plains to Kenya, we were afforded plenty of photographic opportunities then shared wonderful stories around the campfire as we recounted our daily adventures. I will be repeating this trip again in the May-June time frame of 2015.

August found me leading a photographic expedition to Iceland, the land of fire and ice. Trying to describe the landscapes of this island is simply beyond words. Check back after the first of the year for a new collection of photographs from this adventure. If Iceland is on your bucket list, I will be leading another expedition (or two) to Iceland in 2016 so stay tuned and let me know if you are interested.

In September I returned once again to Tanzania for the incredible great migration. During this trip we witnessed multiple wildebeest river crossings – always a spectacular event – and had numerous opportunities to photograph lions and leopards. The energy that surrounds the chaos of a river crossing must not be underestimated and it is one that must be experienced first-hand. As the wildebeest cross the Mara River, it is truly survival of the fittest as they face rapid river currents, angry hippos, and hungry crocodiles. Many of the wildebeests do not survive the mayhem.

October put me in Ethiopia photographing the tribes of the Omo Valley. This was one of the most humbling experiences of my photographic career because of the challenging roads, logistics, weather, and the people. However, I also am excited to repeat as soon as I can, so again, stay tuned. I can’t begin to describe what it was like to photograph these wonderful and caring tribal people of the Omo as they went about their daily lives. Being given unrestricted access to these people and invited to photograph and take part in their daily rituals made memories that will be with me for a long time. I can’t wait to return to work with these tribal members again, and I need to give special thanks to Piper MacKay for introducing me to these seldom-visited areas.

From October to late November I led two safaris into Botswana and co-led another safari with Grant Atkinson. As always, Eyes on Africa provided expert logistical support for two of the safaris and a new provider, Unlimited Safaris, provided the support for my first private camping safari. All three safaris produced wonderful photographic opportunities for leopards, lions and wild dogs. The highlights of these trips were seeing the gorgeous leopards and the packs of African Painted Dogs in full action as they hunted with the precision of a well-trained military unit. It was intense, high speed photography as we followed the dogs on chase after chase.

My third Botswana safari as co-leader with Grant Atkinson started in Maun with 17 of us taking a bush plane flight and landing at Nxabega. Our two days at Nxabega were filled with dogs and dogs and dogs. The African Painted Dog is a formidable killing machine. Usually hunting in both the morning and evening, they sport an 80 percent success rate in their chase to kill ratio. On our last morning before taking another bush flight to Sandibe, we witnessed the dogs make 7 antelope kills in 2 hours. They only missed once when they tried to chase a large kudu. I will be returning to Botswana next October for another photographic adventure sponsored by Muench Workshops.

A big highlight of the year was being invited to join the team of Muench Workshops, a small collection of very experienced professional photographers that lead workshops throughout the world. I think their tag line “one-of-a kind photography workshops at the coolest places on the planet” says it all. I am honored to be affiliated with David Muench, Mark Muench, and Andy Williams, and their wonderful team of photographers.

2015 will be another full year with highlights that include two safaris to Tanzania and Botswana, the landscapes of the Palouse, and the chimpanzees and mountain gorillas of Uganda and Rwanda. I also will be joining Joshua Holko in July as we journey far north into the Arctic to photograph polar bears. In addition, I am currently planning a very small expedition-type adventure into Ethiopia’s Omo Valley in November, once again to photograph the seldom-photographed Suri Tribe. Details and booking information on all of these trips can be found on my website blog. If you don’t see me leading a trip to an area that interests you, please drop me a line and I will share with you what I have planned for the future. Likewise, if you are interested in one of the trips that are fully booked, I will be happy to place you on a waiting list – you just never know.

As for equipment, I am still shooting Nikon and Hasselblad and recently invested in the Profoto B1 portable flash head for my work in Ethiopia. I also invested in the new Nikon 400 f/2.8 FL series lens and man, what a beauty it is!

Wishing you a healthy and prosperous 2015.

Randy Hanna

Join me on an adventure of a lifetime as we make incredible photographs along the way.

2015 Workshop / Travel Outlook –

Iceland – By Winter – February 11-18 (private safari)
Namibia – Overland Landscapes – March 12-22
Tasmania and New Zealand – April 2015 (Private Safari)
Tanzania – The Rut Migration – May 27-June 7
Washington State – Muench Workshops Landscapes of the Palouse – June 11-17 (limited openings)
Uganda and Rwanda – Chimpanzees and Mountain Gorillas – June 25 – 4 July 2015
Norway – Polar Bears – July 22 – 4 August
Botswana – Pure Botswana – September 2015 (FULLY BOOKED)
Tanzania – The Great Migration – September 19-30
Botswana – Muench Workshops Botswana Adventures – October 10-20
Ethiopia – Omo Valley Adventure Series – October – November (please inquire if interested – limited to 4 guests only)

2016 Teaser: Italy, Iceland plus many more.

A Final Shot From Sandibe deep in the Okavango Delta

Another safari comes to a wonderful end. As we gather for our final breakfast at Sandibe in preparation for our bush flight to Maun, I am listening to all of the stories around the table. With everyone recounting their favorite image or event that made the safari special for each of them, I look around and see nothing but smiles on everyone’s face. This tells me that Grant and I did well for them and we hope our paths cross again. We were blessed by great weather, great guides and solid game siting.

Special thanks to Eyes on Africa and the entire &Beyond Staff here at Sandibe and at their main office in Maun. A super big thanks to my co-lead on this trip, Grant Atkinson. I always learn so much about animal behavior when I travel with Grant – what a resource.

So I though noting could be more fitting than a photograph of one of our local Leopards process in a classic timeless style.

Nikon D810, Nikon 400 f/2.8 FL, ISO 400, 1/400 sec at f/6.3

Cheers and happy photo’ing from Botswana

Out of the Omo Valley

Two days ago, I arrived in Addis Ababa after spending two weeks in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia. Talk about being out there….man we are a long way from nowhere. I went to photograph one very special tribe, known as the Suri. Unfortunately, the weather gods kept us from their location as well as another tribe. Between flooded rivers, crossing rivers at night in dug out canoes, to some serious stuck trucks, mother nature cheated me on this one. Based on what I saw, I am already making planes to return to take another stab at this. I’m now in South Africa and I’ll write more in a few days after I get all rested up.

For the shot below, I used a Nikon D810 and a Profoto B1 with a 4 foot octo modifier. I selected the D810 for it’s ability to de-link the foreground from the background when making EV corrections, something that I knew would be critical for this expedition. I selected the Profoto B1 for it’s totally portable solution and 500 watt seconds of power. I knew I would need a powerhouse to deal with the sun however, I was also limited by weight restrictions. The B1 gave me what I needed. Using the new Profoto Nikon TTL air controller, I found myself jumping in and out of TTL often favoring full manual. Having said this, I really love the TTL controller and it really performed well in some difficult conditions.

I am very thankful that I have spent a great deal of time in the studio with all of my model friends. No doubt, this training made me a much better photographer when it came to working with big flashes on location.

So here is the first image from the trip, a male warrior from the Cara Tribe.

Nikon D801, 70-200mm f/2.8 @86, ISO 100, 1/80 sec at f/2.8, Profoto B1 Flash with Octo light modifier.

June Safari Update – Day 8

June Safari Update – Day 8
June 8, 2014

Today was our full day in the Ngorongoro Crater. An early rise greeted us with heavy cloud and a misty decent into the floor of the crater. Not more than 10 minutes into the trip, we found four huge male lions and four females and an added bonus of a pair of young cubs. Although they were playing just out of camera range, it was a great sight to see. We continued along our way photographing the landscapes of the crater, as well as flamingos, zebras, jackals (golden and silver back), and Cape Buffalos. We worked hard to locate the rhinos however, they would not cooperate so we returned to camp for wonderful African dinner and an evening around the campfire. As a highlight, the kitchen staff baked a birthday cake for Jeff. What a surprised look he had on his face when he figured out what was going on.

Early morning storm in the Ngorongoro Crater.  Nikon D800, 24-70 @ 24mm

Nikon D4, 200-400mm f/4, @ 330mm; ISO 200, 1/250 sec at f/7.1.   B&W conversion in NIK Software.

Tomorrow, we are off the Gibbs Farm to end our safari on a very high note. With lots of activities planed for Gibbs, it will be a full day.

Cheers and happy photo’ing

Live Blogging from the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater made possible by XCOM GLOBAL International.

Rwanda and Mountain Gorillas – Here We Come

After a very long night fighting a hard drive failure on my main computer, I’m off to Rwanda with a quick stop in Dubai.  As far as the computer is concerned, I am very thankful that I was able to do a full system resort from my most recent backup.  After all of the traumatic  starts and stops, I finally diagnosed the problem as a hard drive starting to fail.  I had SMART monitoring enabled but it did not catch the start of the failure. Backups saved me this time.

For this trip to photograph the Gorillas, I will be going very light with only two camera and two lenses.  Do to the low light conditions I will be working in, I selected my Nikon D4 and my D3s as the bodies.  For the glass, the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 and the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 will round out the kit.  I will be using a double camera strap by Black Rapid.  Having shot the Gorillas before, I will be making use of the auto-ISO feature on the bodies to keep my shutter speed high enough to avoid camera shake.

I’ll be blogging live from Rwanda thanks to the wonderful folks at XComGlobal.  XComGlobal offers WiFi internet access in more than 175 countieis worldwide.

Cheers and happy photo’ing.

Safari Update – Day 8 (3 Oct 2013)

Safari Update Day 8 (3 Oct 2013)
20 degrees C
Sunrise 0618, clear skies with clouds at the horizon.

Today was our full day in the Northern Serengeti.  We had heard of a female rhino and baby in the higher plains area as well as a leopard with cubs.  In talking with the guides from the previous trip (departing the day we arrived), they had not seen a wildeebest crossing at the Mara River, but had good luck with the rhino. With some wildebeests spotted on the far shore of the Mara River, I decided to position the team along the river and fore-go traveling into the plains.  In frustration, we watched the wildebeest herd build and build, running up and down the banks of the river.  With none of them interested in crossing, we decided to take a break for lunch under an acacia treat.  Man, I really wanted this to happen for my clients.

As we began our movement toward our camp, we saw it – the herd on the far side running a break neck speed toward one of the prime crossing points.  At this point, I knew it was going to happen and happen fast.  We took up a position behind some trees in an effort not to scare them away from the shore.  All of a sudden we heard the SPLASH and the crossing was on.  Zooming down to the banks of the river, we were treated to one of the wonders of the world – the great wildebeest migration river crossing of the Mara River.  Lasting only for 10 minutes, we had time to reposition the truck to photograph the crossing with both front lighting and back lighting conditions.  What a show of nature this was!  Following the crossing, we stopped along the way to knock out some landscapes and huge cloud formations.  On way back to camp we witnessed an overturned safari vehicle in the Mara river (not one of ours).  A solemn reminder of how critical it is to travel with experienced guides. I am blessed to have such guides in the Thomson Safari Team.    Another highlight as we closed the day was wishing Alan a happy 70th birthday, complete with a bush birthday cake and friendly dance from the camp staff.  Way to go Alan!  By the way, Rita’s birthday was the day after.  Thanks Rita for tolerating Alan after all of these years.  After the evening meal, a number of us gathered around the campfire to recount the stories of the trip.

A SPECIAL NOTE:  Over my years in working with the bush staff of Thompson Safaris, you come to know just about everyone involved in making our safaris special.  None could be more important than the unsung heroes of the kitchen, the chefs.  I come to know one of these heroes quite well over the years.  A quiet and hard working lady, Joyce was lady who had the gift of making a incredible meal out of very little – a true artist in the kitchen.    Every time I saw Joyce, we always exchanged small gifts with most of her gifts being hand made with Katherine in mind.  Her smile was simple but always genuine and gracious.  As we left the Crater heading to the Serengeti, I received word of her abrupt passing.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t say one word from the Crater to the the gate at the Serengeti as I reflected upon my days working with Joyce.  JOYCE, I will miss you and I know the entire Thompson Team will miss you as well.  Rest in peace JOYCE.

Safari Update – Day 9 (4 Oct 2013)

Safari Update Day 9 (4 Oct 2013) Our Final Day
21 degrees C, clear skies

Today is our departure day from the Serengeti as we begin to wing our way toward home.  As we said our good byes to the camp staff everyone is starting to come to grips with the fact that we are leaving a magical area that has found a special place in our hearts.  Our final goodbyes to expert guides, that have been our eyes and ears for this trip were not without a couple of tears, at least for me, as I hugged them all like the brothers that we are.  Kileo, Casmire, Leonard, and Mustafa, I will miss you greatly and I can’t wait for our next adventure in February 2014.  During our charter flight back to Arusha, we were treated to another marvel of Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro was showing off for all to see as clear as she could be.

The visual and emotional journeys that we have taken together over the past 9 days will be the foundation of stories that will be told for years to come along with outstanding photographs to share with family and friends.  The friendships we made will carry one for a long time as everyone talked of doing another safari together.  Serengeti Reunion  – you gotta love it.

As I said my farewells to everyone at the airport, I looked over my shoulder to see a classic African sunset lighting up Mount Kilimanjaro.  A wonderful reminder of just how blessed I am in getting to experience Africa in the way that I do.

Nikon D4, 70-200 f/2.8 @ 70mm, ISO 320, 1/320 sec at f/1

Thanks again to Alan, Rita, Jean, Bill, Harry, Raul, Tom, Donna, Nancy, and Ray. I sincerely looking forward to our paths crossing again. My best to all of you in your future travels.

Safari Update Day 7 (2 Oct 2013)

Safari Update Day 7 (2 Oct 2013)
20 degrees C
Sunrise 0615, clear skies with clouds starting to build in the distance.

Today we traversed from Robanda to our new camp in the northern Serengeti. Kogatende is located high atop the rolling hills in the northern Serengeti. The ‘road less traveled’ was full of adventure and showed us a different view of the Tanzania that we had seen before. We arrived at our new camp about 1130 just in time for a much needed travel break. Once again we were greeted with huge building cloudy skies making for a wonderful photographic opportunities. With an altitude of 5600 ft, the air was crisp and free of haze. At 1500, we were off again for our first safari in the northern area. The incredible rocky outcrops, called kojpes, and rolling hills of the northern area are not to be missed. It was not soon into the afternoon that we were presented with a small pride of lions taking it easy under a tree adjacent to a large kojpe formation. On the way back to camp, we stopped to photograph the dung beetle rolling his ball of dung proudly down the road. Another great day in the Serengeti.

Nikon D3X, 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 160, ISO 320, 1/250 sec at f/8.0.  This image was taken here

Cheers and happy photo’ing.

Safari Update – Day 6 (1 Oct 2013)

Safari Update Day 6 (1 Oct 2013)
19 degrees C
Sunrise 0600, clear skies

Today was our first full day in the central Serengeti and man did we hit a home run. Lions, leopards, cheetahs, and a horizon of huge thunderous clouds made for some wonderful landscapes toward the end of the day. It was an early return to camp resulting in a mad rush for showers and then it was off the the lounge tent for battery charging and story telling about the wonders of the day. Tomorrow will be our last push to our new and final camp in the northern Serengeti near the Mara River.

NOTE: Due the the remoteness of this camp, there will be no updates from the bush.

Cerval Cat,  Nikon D4, 200-400mm f/4.5 @ 400mm, ISO 320, 1/640 at f/6.

Cheers and happy photo’ing.  Blogging live from the Serengeti.